'We Don't Want Your Money …'
"We don't want your money; we want you to come see what we do."
Here's a story about a transformational gift — a gift of $27.1 million from a company that was in bankruptcy, no less. And it started with the sentence above.
Can you imagine going into a huge potential donor meeting and saying, "We don't want your money; we want you to come see what we do"?
Well, this is what the United Way of Southeastern Michigan (formerly the United Way of Detroit) said back in 2010, when it called on its major corporate supporter.
The timing could not have been worse.
Detroit was sunk in a terrible recession. Unemployment was sky-high. Morale was down. The future seemed hopeless. The auto industry had crashed and burned, and the United Way of Detroit was calling on one of the Big Three automakers. One that was in bankruptcy, no less.
But the United Way of Detroit had a plan. And it started with that brilliant opening line: "We don't want your money ..."
Here's the story:
My friend Tammy Zonker headed up the United Way team that closed this remarkable gift. Here is the cultivation plan Zonker and the United Way team created and successfully executed to win a $27.1 million gift:
1. First they had a dream
They had a vision for a Detroit to be born again. They dreamed that Greater Detroit could become one of the nation's top five places to live and work by 2020.
(Question: How big is your dream for your organization? Is it big enough to attract excitement and big dollars?)
2. And they had a plan too
A concrete plan with four main, measurable goals:
- Early-childhood education: kids prepared to enter school ready to succeed.
- Moving high schools to graduate at least 80 percent of their students.
- Income: helping 19,000 families become financially stable through jobs and benefits.
- Basic needs: reducing hunger by more than 50 percent.
(Question: Are your goals that clear? That measurable?)